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Nineteenth Century America

Road Trip Through History: The Sawmill Museum at Clinton, Iowa

The Sawmill Museum at Clinton, Iowa, was our last stop on this year’s Great River Road adventure—and a fitting stop it was. Logging was a recurring theme this year and last year. Beginning in Lake Itasca in Minnesota almost every local historical museum or GRR interpretive center has had at least one panel on logging.*…

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Road Trip Through History: Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button

The nineteenth century button industry based on fresh-water mussels was a recurring theme of our ten days on the Great River Road this year. In 1891 a German button manufacturer named John Frederick Boepple opened a button factory in Muscatine, Iowa, after a change in tariff laws caused his business in Germany to fail. Shell…

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From The Archives: Lincoln’s Greatest Case–Sort of

One of the recurring themes this fall as we worked our way along the Great River Road, crossing the Mississippi back and forth between Iowa and Wisconsin was, in fact, the question of crossing the river.  We think of “bridge-building” as a metaphor for bringing communities together, but the construction of real-life bridges was often…

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